Lansing — An Ingham County judge on Friday denied a motion to postpone selecting a jury to decide the fate of former Michigan State University gymnastics Dr. Larry Nassar, who is accused of sexually assaulting more than 100 gymnasts.
Nassar’s attorneys, Matt Newburg and Shannon Smith, filed a motion before Judge Rosemarie Aquilina to delay the case because they argued the jury selection date, Dec. 4, was too close to a federal sentencing date on child pornography charges scheduled for Nassar on Nov. 27.
Newburg argued that the intense media scrutiny of Nassar’s case “is going to substantially prejudice my client’s right to a fair trial.”
Prosecutors from the state Attorney General’s office said they agreed with Newburg that widespread coverage could taint the jury selection process and urged a later jury selection date.
Nassar’s attorneys declined to comment after the hearing.
Judge Aquilina said she was “shocked” by their request.
“I am shocked and in dismay at this request. I would ask the counsel to go back and read the jury instructions,” she said, explaining that the court explicitly warned potential jurors not to read the newspaper, listen to the radio, watch TV news or talk to people about the case.
Aquilina said because of the nature of Nassar’s charges and the media attention, she has requested some 400 potential jurors more than in a typical case to retain a pool of 750 to 800.
Nassar, 54, faces life in prison between federal child pornography charges he pleaded guilty to and three state felony cases of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.
“Certainly we will have to always do our job as we do in every case to re-ask (potential jurors) if they have talked to anybody, if they have listened to the media, if they have done any experiments … but we do that in every case,” Aquilina said.
“We will go forward. I demand that you would be ready. The victims deserve this, the people deserve this … Everyone deserves that — both sides. That’s what justice requires for both sides.”